BNP’s demand for a non-party polls-time government has weakened as many party leaders and activists are now busy with the programmes to press release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia.
“Now our priority is to ensure the release of our party chief Khaleda Zia,” BNP Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told the daily sun.
Asked about their demand for a non-party polls-time government, he said, “Our movement for non-party election-time government and release of the BNP chief will go on simultaneously.”
On February 8, Special Judge Court-5 in Dhaka convicted Khaleda Zia and sentenced her to five-year imprisonment in Zia Orphanage Graft case. Since then, she has been staying in old Dhaka Central Jail at Nazimuddin road of the capital.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Monday stayed Khaleda’s bail until May 8 in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Earlier on March 14, the Supreme Court stayed until Sunday a High Court order granting a four-month interim bail to Khaleda.
The BNP leaders and activists are now busy carrying on legal fight in the court to release their chairperson from jail and they will continue the movement, some BNP central leaders said.
Since Khaleda Zia landed in jail, BNP has been continuing its movement demanding immediate and unconditional release of its party chief from jail. The BNP activists have already staged a series of countrywide demonstrations, including protest rally, procession, human chain, sit-in programme and token hunger strike.
BNP also held public rallies in Chittagong and Khulna divisions demanding Khaleda’s release from jail. The party will also hold public rallies in other divisional headquarters, including Rajshashi, Barisal and Comilla, and some other districts, on the same issue.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday announced that the party will stage countrywide demonstration on Tuesday, demanding the release of Khaleda Zia. It will also hold a public rally on the same issue at the Suhrawardy Udyan on March 29.
Though the BNP has been demonstrating demanding the release of Khaleda Zia, their demand for the election under a non-party interim government has been relatively low.
BNP insiders said the party leaders can guess that Khaleda Zia may not be released from jail immediately and her imprisonment may linger on until the next general election.
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP leaders said now the party in a dilemma over its movement as it neither can forge tougher agitation programme demanding election under a non-party government and release of Khaleda Zia nor it can pay attention to election preparation.
Another leader said BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman, also the party’s senior vice-chairman who has been staying in London for long, is giving instruction to the party senior leaders to carry on ‘peaceful’ movement and take preparation for the election.
Tarique Rahman also urged the party leaders to maintain unity inside the party and stop any possibility of splitting the party ahead of the next national election, in absence of party chief Khaleda Zia, he added.
Talking to the daily sun, BNP Vice-chairman Barkatullah Bulu said, “Now the priority of our movement is to release our party chairperson. At the same time, we also demand holding a credible election in any way.”
Mohammad Shahjahan, BNP vice-chairman, said, “We want a free, fair and credible election under a non-party neutral government and we will carry on our movement to this end.”
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP central leaders said the party is now going through a big crisis as its leaders are now in a dilemma over party strategy.
“The party leaders are now thinking weather BNP will now wage movement for release of Khaleda Zia, take preparation for election or forge movement to realise their demand for an election under a non-party government,” they added.
“If Khaleda Zia’s imprisonment is prolonged and the next parliament election is held under the incumbent Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, then BNP’s all previous movements will go in vain. And the party may not achieve desired result in the polls,” a BNP senior leader said.
Meanwhile, BNP senior leaders on Monday night in a meeting at the party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office discussed the party’s next strategy to ensure Khaleda Zia’s release, their upcoming programmes and the next parliamentary elections, the BNP sources said.
The party senior leaders will sit in more meetings with central and top leaders of the components of the 20-party alliance to decide on their movement strategy and participation in the next parliament election, the sources added.